This is the first of a few posts I will be making condensing what I say to men and women personally dealing with same sex attraction, who are just coming to grips with it, their fears and shame, and how to reconcile their orientation and their testimony (neither of which can just be “unchosen”). Or, they have been living another life, one acted out in secrecy and shame, and other in public as the perfect Latter-day Saint. When they start realizing that what they’ve been doing isn’t working, that it can’t go on like this, almost always the first question out of their mouths is: “what are my chances? Am I kidding myself that this can work?” So when you read me say “you” in this post, that is who I am talking to.
Even people who have been successful for a long time can get rattled. They look around at so many well-publicized failures and say, “Whoa, am I kidding myself that this can really work? Is it only a matter of time until I fail?” I certainly know the feeling! I joke that some people look at me as if I were riding a unicycle across a tightrope suspended over flaming lava while juggling knives. And when I allow myself to start feeling that way, I really could fall.
But I am convinced that this should not be your first question. “What are my chances?” is the second question, one that you consider as you are planning your best approaches and trying to avoid or overcome common pitfalls. But the first question, which must be answered before the second question even has any relevance, is: “What do I really want?”
If you start asking the second question before you have really addressed your doubts about the first question, the second question will only paralyze and disempower you because they don’t put your focus on what is important and on what you can control.
Before Sir Edmund Hilary climbed Mount Everest, what were the chances of making it? Before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, what were his chances? Before the Wright brothers flew, what were their chances?
Statistically, their chances were zero! But there is no way they would have accomplished what they did if they only focused on the odds.
Their first question (and the people who supported them) determining whether they had a goal worth risking everything for. That way, even if they failed, they could say, it was worth it! Just to have a chance to try living my dream was worth it! And once they decided, they put their energy into controlling what they could: keeping an eye out for real dangers, preparing, improving, learning from failures and mistakes, and above all, picking themselves up again to keep trying!
We have it easier, because we have a safety net where these men did not. While writing this, I was reminded of Peter going out to meet the Savior as He was walking on the water. For a while Peter was doing great, but then he got to a point where he psyched himself out. I can imagine he listened to those doubting voices in his head that said if was ridiculous to think that he could walk on water, that it was only a matter of time before he failed and drowned himself.
We all know what happened then. He started to fall and would have drowned had Jesus not been there to reach out to him and save him from being swallowed up in the sea. Peter’s faith wasn’t perfect, but it was still okay. He survived anyway. That is a metaphor for our own lives.
When your faith falters, if you get tripped up by your fears or doubts, or by mocking, learned worldly voices that tell you it isn’t possible to do what you are actually already doing, remember whom to reach out to. Remember the strong loving hands that can save you from drowning in your sea of doubts and wavering faith. Reach out to those saving, loving hands that will lift you up, if only you will reach for Him and hold on tight.